The Bombay high court (HC) recently came down heavily on the commissioner of police (CP) (Navi Mumbai) and the superintendent of Taloja jail after an undertrial was not produced before the trial court despite being called 22 times.
A single bench of justice AM Thipsay was hearing the second bail application of Suresh Maruti, 29, who was arrested on September 8, 2013, and charged under sections 302 (murder), 144 (unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapons), 147 (punishment for rioting) of the Indian Penal Code by the Tilaknagar police station.
Maruti has been lodged at Taloja jail from September 23, 2013. On August 7, 2014, justice Thipsay rejected Maruti’s bail. The court directed the trial court to expedite the trial. On March 19 this year, it was recorded that despite directions from the high court, the trial had not commenced. Justice Thipsay asked for a report from the trial court.
On April 21, the trial court sent a report stating that from September 6, 2014, to March 23 this year, 22 dates had been given, but Maruti was produced before the court only twice. The HC recorded that the trial court judge had issued letters to the Taloja jail superintendent, which was futile, as the prison administration did not have the machinery for transporting prisoners from the prison to court. The court further recorded, “undertrial prisoners are required to be produced before the court by the police specifically employed for the purpose”.
The HC said, “Non-production of undertrial prisoners on the dates of hearing of the case appears to be quite common and routine. This is not proper. Undertrials remain in prison because they are not granted bail. The object behind their detention is not to punish them, or ‘teach them a lesson’ but to ensure that they will be available to face trial.”
The court asked the CP to ensure the accused are produced before the trial court on all dates of hearing, and also hold an inquiry into the matter. On June 15, the deputy commissioner of police submitted a report to the HC, stating that police guards were being provided by the headquarters at Navi Mumbai. The court stated a copy should be handed over to the Taloja jail superintendent.